The environmental impact of “fast fashion” raises concerns globally and on campus | FIU News

The $20 designer knockoff you wore once and then threw away. The flimsy t-shirt you knew wouldn’t last but bought for its Instagram-worthy catchphrase.

Such “fast fashions” (inexpensive, shoddy clothing, often intended for single use and made for near-next-day delivery to stores) spell big trouble for all of us.

So say an FIU professor and a growing number of students. The cost is there, they explain: in the carbon emitted in the manufacturing and shipping of often synthetic (not natural fiber) items, in the waste generated as it is quickly disposed of, and in the social injustice inherent in low wages paid. to the workers. , mostly abroad, to produce the fashion yarns that attract impulse purchases.

The movement away from fast fashion and toward sustainable clothing is gaining steam on campus with clothing swaps, a new sustainability hub, and teachers raising awareness in class.

Jesse Blanchard, professor of environmental sciences, teaches about the dangers of fast fashion, calling it one of the biggest environmental criminals out there.

“When you wear clothing once and throw it away, it becomes a solid waste problem for which we currently have no real solution. We just pile it up and that’s it,” Blanchard said, as he wore a sports jacket made from recycled plastic bottles.

The garment industry is known as one of the most polluting industries, as it generates a large amount of greenhouse gases and accounts for 10 percent of all carbon emissions each year.

But Blanchard looks to the future with hope and believes things are moving in the right direction towards reducing fast fashion emissions with the latest wave of youth awareness and advocacy.

“The middle economic class in the United States is the most powerful consumer in the world and our students are part of that,” Blanchard said. “If they make a decision about something that must happen, it will happen. It’s just a question of, can they be strong enough to make it happen?


Genevieve Lafrinere and Natalie Concepcion teamed up with other students to launch the Panther Sustainability Hub as part of a grant promoting positive change on campus. the center is located on the northwest side of MMC near the 112th Ave. and 8th Street entrance, across from the Ziff Education Building.

Concepción and Lafinere were particularly interested in reducing clothing waste among students, so they opened a closet in the center.

“The closet is basically like a thrift store on campus,” said Lafrinere, who is studying marine biology. “We accept donations of clothing, shoes or accessories from anyone.”

Students, faculty and staff can donate or pull clothes from the closet, absolutely free. The center is open for a few hours every day of the week.

“We don’t have closet restrictions because not everyone has something to give,” said Concepción, who is studying political science. “You can take what you need.”

They started the closet to encourage students to change their clothing buying habits.

“I feel like I see a lot of people who are not aware of this problem, especially college students,” Concepción said. “If we can educate people more about this, that’s a win for me.”

Another student group on campus, the Sustainable Souls Society, hosts clothing swaps in the Green Library corridor every month to spread awareness and give used clothing a second life. For each item donated, a student can choose from those offered.

“I want to be a part of the shift toward sustainability,” said Stephanie Uviovo, the club’s vice president and secretary. “I personally study international relations, so I am interested in sustainable development. I want to be able to develop the environment and have a significant and lasting impact on whatever society or community I find myself in.”